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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  July 10, 2014 12:00am-2:01am EDT

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>> tune into book tv for the harlem book fair, discussions on multicultural, and book tv. >> a discussion on president toma's $3.7 billion request address the situation at the us-mexico border. this is 40 minutes. ter. "washington journal" continues. host: joining us now to continue our conversation is doris meissner. previously, among her many background experiences, she was the former commissioner of u.s. immigration service from 1993-2000. the president wants almost $4 billion to be put to issues along the border. what do you think about the
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dollar request? >> it is a large amount of money, but money that is needed in terms of the migration emergency taking place on the southwest border. it has most of the money in the request going for facilities to provide housing and shelter and care for these young people who have been crossing the border. i think the most important part that actually leads to a longer term solution and response to this beyond the immediate needs of caring for people is the request for a substantial increase in the number of immigration -- this request includes $64 million which would plus up the immigration judge capacity at the border significantly and that really is the beginning of the reasons age
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lot of these children are coming to the country. they're coming because we have not had the capacity to give them the hearings the law requires so while they are waiting for their hearings, which can be as many as several and withey are release generally family members. that has created a word-of-mouth flow of information back and forth into the region that basically served in many people's minds as an invitation to come. if we had those hearings, if we were able to decide those cases upfront, when people first arrive in the country, know who it is who actually has a valid asylum complaint, who ought to remain in the country, but also know who does not, and be able to send this people back, of their with cooperation of
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governments and under safe conditions, i think it would be able to change the dynamic in play now. foroes it indicate a tone these judges in deportation policy? a change in tone as far as how many folks get back? well, the policy has been set by the congress in a law that passed in 2008. it was signed by president bush, strongly supported on a bipartisan basis. it is known as the trafficking victims protection act. who come tot people the country who are not adults, under 18, if they are not from mexico or canada, have a right to a full immigration hearing. that has come about for very good reasons over time in over experience. these are vulnerable migrants
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and they should get their hearings. >> the application in this case with the numbers we are going through? >> we could definitely comply with the law if we had the resources and procedures in as soon give hearings as people arrive. but we have not invested in our inigration judge capacity any way proportionate to the investments we have made in 10 years on our border patrol for instance. it just like our criminal justice system in that way. if you do not have magistrates and judges in the courtroom, the system gets bottled up. that is taken place in the where youngsystem people are concerned. there is a german is bottleneck where the judicial rock chest -- process-- the judicial
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is concerned, and that needs to be in a way that allows to issues to be made readily. and the decisions stand in terms of who is able to come to the country and who goes at home. .- back home a lot needs to be done in this together situation with them going home. there is no question but that these people are coming from desperate conditions and these countries need to step up and we need to step up and the region needs to step up in resolving and addressing these problems of crime and violence and endemic poverty. those are longer-term answers that are doable. we need to change the dynamic right now of people believing they can come to the united states and stay. , our guest meissner to talk about issues along the border. her current position with the migration policy institute.
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wanda, you are up first from california, democrats line. good morning. i awakened in california and i have in listening to various comments for a while. i want to make a few statements if you give me time. first of all, it appears individuals on both sides of the aisle, but mainly on the republican side do not understand or except the fact that congress is the one that creates laws. they establish legislation. it is voted on. it is said to the president for
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his signature. that congresslaw beated for there not to executing, which is what obama is supposed to do, oversee the if theon of that law, law is wrong, then congress itself needs to come back to the table who are not doing anything but getting paid to do nothing, and fix the law. the caller points out the idea we have been talking about a little bit, which is that there are special provisions which apply to people under the age of 18. the corporate vision that is really relevant here is that
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young people have a right to a hearing before an immigration judge. it is certainly the case that the executive branch has been complying with that mandate and those requirements. but i think everyone agrees the way in which the executive branch has been complying needs to be accelerated. this is not a situation where procedures should be abandoned. sensible essential -- standards. but they need to be accelerated so there meaningful at this point. caller: i just have a few suggestions. why don't obama take his pan and turn this around, that people cannot come here? this is a crisis. we of people here who need help. we do not have any jobs and he can solve this real quick. a little babies are different,
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the toddlers. but i would send all those people back with that money he wants and have the parents or whoever brought them to the train to come here to come and take their children up. solve would he has signed other things. was thewhat bush meant children had been in the united states since they were born, that they would be able to stay here. at the time. i do not think he meant that we should just have people pouring over the border. can give the people $500 apiece. when they go home and meet their ,arents or whoever brought them and take them home. administration has been clear about the fact that it is prepared to send people home, that it is looking for the funding to do that. the request includes about 1.1 billion dollars for the agency
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responsible for deportation. it also is recognizing in the request that before you can do that, there are special requirements that apply to this population. what you want to do is to be certain to make those provisions -- those decisions immigration judges may, based on whether or to somebody has a claim asylum in the united states, or, any other form of relief under the immigration laws. those decisions can be made in a timely fashion and they do not need to take years the way they are now. the way i read the supplemental requests that have gone up is -- that is what it is asking for. judges, what the if there are qualifications, how are they elected? they are somewhat like a
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minister at of law judges. they are not a separate branch of government. they are part of the executive branch. they are generally trained -- they are certainly trained, but generally come from the immigration legal background. many of them have worked in other government agencies on immigration issues before they became immigration judges. but they apply from all over the country. they are experienced lawyers and are trained in immigration legal procedures. host: illinois, ray, independent line. caller: hello. a couple of ideas. some years ago, they came up with a chip you can put under your medicalhave records on, that way when these people do not show up for court, they know where to find them. money, we should take it
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from usa instead of congress, and it will not go on the pockets of a corrupt government, and house them in camps, so that is a real good option as well. guest: actually, fema has been drawn into managing and helping to manage this response. it is responsible overall for the coordination the executive ranch is providing. they are developing and procuring facilities all over the country. there are these facilities and expertise being brought here. forth, thes and so immigration system has for some while used ankle bracelets, being able tom of monitor people and be sure they are available for hearings without the high cost of being in a detention setting.
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i think the ankle bracelet option is one that is not only in place, but one we will see more use of in responding to this particular situation. here is patricia, democrats line. caller: good morning. i want to convey all the immigrants on the south order ,re considered refugees pertaining to the perilous predicament from their nation of indicative --is for all of them, and not just a immigrating to the nation. it is also quite evident for the need for you to facilitate with the congressman pertaining to legislationnitiate
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pertainingnstituents to proper date that is synonymous to refugees and immigrants to be able to have the assistance and accordance as well. both of those particular legislations can be quite effective and implemented very expectedly into the system. actually, these people are not all considered refugees. a point of debate. some people believe they should, but this is a mixed flow. there are people in this group and population that might receive refugee status, interchangeable with asylum status, and so the issue really who in thishrough
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population is eligible for making atatus, by claim for asylum in the united states, and who is not and therefore does not have a right to be in the country, and would torequired to be returned their home nation. that is the issue, how they decide where there is a legitimate claim for protection in the united states and where there is a situation that calls for repatriation. >> gary, good morning, republican line. >> good morning. if she like to ask believes the borders should be , and thenediately have arbitrators instead of judges taking care of this situation, and what about all being brought upon
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us in the u.s. from these people coming from central america? basically, the borders are closed. there is an enormous amount of enforcement that takes place along the borders. but people do come up to the , and turn themselves over. the unusual they about this particular migration is that, by and large, people are turning themselves into the border patrol, as compared with trying to evade them and sneaking into the country. they are turning themselves over because there is a system in place whereby those under 18 have the opportunity and the a hearing before an immigration judge to determine whether or not they have any basis for being in the united states. sorting through that and making those decisions, and the delays
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that have been in place for too many years, the time it takes to make those decisions is what the challenge to overcome is at the present time. thatses, among the reasons these young people are in the custody of the federal government and turned over quickly to health and human services is for processing. a lot of what takes place in the processing has to do with health , soening and health issues that, under the circumstances where people might be released to relatives, they are not released unless they are healthy. think the screening systems in place and the experience u.s. government agencies with these responsibilities have for dealing with health and his these issues are really well developed. i think this is not something we should be alarmed about.
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host: have you handled anything ,s far as the influx problem anything similar to what is going on now? guest: yes. we have had emergencies like this throughout. it is a phenomenon that lends itself to emergencies. we have had emergencies from central america in the 1980's and when i was in the office in the 1990's. in the 1990's, we had several serious emergencies, from haiti, basicwe had other bottlenecks in our immigration system that have required dramatic features to ensure decisions are made in a timely way so we do not create incentives. >> the lessons from all those emergencies are basically the lessons we are talking about
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here. we need to have an immediate, near-term, and long-term response. peoplee and shelter of so there are issues like health screenings and so forth. then you have to tackle the are leadinghat people to take these very dangerous journeys. one thing we have not mentioned in conversation this morning is that part of the incentives here are being exploited by smugglers. there has been a well-developed smuggling network in central america coming through new mexico in the united states. smugglers are passing on information that, if you get to the united states, your hearing will be delayed for possibly or $6,000,ay a 5000 we will take your children and deliver them. these responses to smuggling, these efforts to work with the
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countries people are from, all of those issues are part of a solution. but we have to start as the .apacity is available we have to start making decisions quickly on who gets to stay and who gets to go back. formerly the head of the national immigration service. florida, independent line, scott, hello. caller: first of all, i would like to thank c-span for giving the common american voice on this subject, one that president obama will never hear. on a daily basis, the united states government is breaking laws. and letbreak another our returning military go down to the border and help out border agents? ours against the law to use
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own military in our own country. why not repeal that one? soldiers are getting paid anyway. that would save us a lot of money. my other problem is i am currently disabled and i live on $1300 a month. , theygure they gave out said it cost $350,000 a day. in four days time, they are getting more help than i get to live on for a whole month. >> where the military going to the border is concerned, the military has been asked to go to the border many times over the emergencytime, in situations as well as ongoing enforcement operations. i think the congress and the tocutive branch feel free ask the military to take on a responsibility like this if they
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think they need that help. time, nobody has asked for the military to go to the border. it is not a situation where the border enforcement itself, that is going to change by the border enforcement being strengthened. where peopletion are turning themselves over. the real task and a real resource investments that need to be made are in handling these large numbers of people and then getting the decisions made to either send them home or bring them into the united states, where many have family members. line.maryland, democrats caller: i have compassion but it is wearing thin. we help everybody but the american people. disabled, homeless veterans unemployed who cannot
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find work. we have homeless people in this country and he will make the statement they are fully involved. what about inner cities? if chicago last weekend, 82 people were shot and 14 died. maybe these people need to declare themselves refugees and they can get some help. people in detroit have been without water for over a month. city is owed $80,000 in water bills. they still have water. i am sick and tired. these people need to be sent at home. whatdo not think that is we are talking about here. anre talking about putting efficient, timely system into place that sent people home who have a claim to be the in dash in the united states and those who do, figuring out , they, under our
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laws, should be in the united states. it is an important issue because you point to the fact that violence exists in many places. that is right here in violence exists in this country and in many parts of the world. it also exists in the countries where the children are coming from. violence alone is not under our a reason to be admitted into the united states. that goes again to the importance of judges making the based on what the real information is they are being presented with. the information on immigration relief, based on violence, it is very difficult to grant an asylum claim based simply on the fact people are fleeing violence. efficient decision
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system into place early on when people arrived rather than years down the road, those decisions can be made in a timely fashion and also in accordance with our laws and values. that is something we can stand for in this country. all of the president's senior people have been at the border. secretary kerry has met with the presidents of the countries, vice president went two weeks ago, the secretary of homeland security, the policy adviser has been to the border, should he go? maybe you would like to. i do not know he can learn anything more than he he can lee than he already knows. teresa, missouri, republican line, hello there. caller: hi, i have something to say to ms. meissner about the
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law. first of all, the law should be changed. they would not have to have an appropriation for these judges that come from the executive branch, from her own mouth. what do you think they will do with these people if they are under the executive branch? they won't need the judges. law,se if they change the they can turn them around just like they have to with the mexicans and send them home. these people need to go. thet: you know, changing law is changing the law. congress can certainly do that. congress has been absolutely paralyzed on the issue of immigration and immigration law across-the-board. so, until congress decides to it is.the law, it is as
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this is a question of implementing the law in an and under these circumstances it is going to require more resources in order to do that in a way that changes the dynamic that brings these people here. these people on twitter mentioned the alien child protection act of two thousand seven, legislation from senator feinstein the dope with people who came from countries other than mexico. can you add anything about how that law that works out in the modern day? that is what we are talking about. the way that that works out today, the way that it has worked out, people who have come to the country because of a bottleneck in immigration hearings, those people have been released in the united states. most of them have family members here. they're hearing is at least one year away. sometimes two years and three years away.
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that has fed the incentives, fed the basic experience that people gethaving, which is that to here they will be in a safe place and they're hearing will be delayed. what we are talking about is changing those delays so that those decisions can be made early on and, therefore, you can avoid that release into the country and the fact some the ground that just getting here is all you need to do. host: independent line, rod, go ahead. ask -- a would like to while ago she said that these people are needy and poor and come from poverty. and then she quoted all of these , $5,000, $6,000. where are they getting that money if they are needy and poor ? look at the tv and these millions and millions of taxpaying families who are
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working, paying their bills from paycheck to paycheck and don't have a couple of thousand dollars in the bank. why should they keep on paying their tax money for all of these people? that order needs to be locked down good. border? make it to the go back. you are not setting foot over here. lees tell these poor taxpaying people -- that caller called a while ago who is only getting so much money per month and in four days these people are getting it? screened?eally where are they getting this money to come up. if it costs that much money and they are so needy and poor when our people are working paycheck to paycheck. so many people starving and poverty. please tell our taxpayers. the money being paid to smugglers is very high and that is a very good question.
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that people turn over deeds to their land to the smugglers. people in denture themselves into the future as debt to the smugglers to pay off these fees for years into the future. from withinmoney their communities and families in order to pull together the amount of money for the smugglers. this is -- everything about this situation is not only dangerous, it is inhumane. and difficult, not only for the people that are involved in doing it, but for those people who are exploiting the situation. reason whyone more we have got to put this on a different feel -- different footing. everything about it is negative and destructive. host: what is the message to
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other countries about this issue? what is the message from the administration? or what should he? >> the administration has been making very aggressive efforts to work with mexico and the countries in the region. there are a number of messages. one of them is to attack the smuggling. to have a much longer law enforcement response, that is one of the immediate steps that needs to be taken. another message is that the corruption and the violence that feeds this kind of traffic needs to have a much higher priority in the region, as well as between the united states and the region. i think another message to the central american countries is that they need to be prepared to accept the return of people who have left the country under these circumstances, who don't have a claim to be in the united states. and that involves much more
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effort at effective governance in these countries, at rule of law, at anticorruption in their own law enforcement. the institutions so that people can, in fact, be protected in their countries. over the longer term i think it does mean that we all need to work together much more effect of lead to raise standards of living in the region. because this is our neighborhood and there is no better example than this of how it is that we are affected as a country by what it is that goes on in our neighborhood. texas, border state, this is where benjamin lives, democrat. hello. these problems with the immigration, is it going to affect or slow down the system for those who are here with
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applications for immigration? will it slow down or what? i don't think that we know that until we see what happens with this supplemental appropriation. theof the reasons for supplemental appropriation is two plus the resources that can be directed at this problem so that the rest of the immigration system can continue to move along the way that it ought to. but i do think that realistically if the appropriation is not granted, there will be an affect on the rest of the immigration system because just in the example of judges, we have too few judges. we have had too few judges for years. so, not only have we had a chronic efficiency where judges deciding cases totally apart from this emergency has been concerned, but if you are now directed many of the judges to working on that work, which is
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essential if we are going to change the -- change the nature of the law, then other parts of the caseload will suffer. so, it is important to make these investments. these investments and judges, as i have said, they have been long needed. this is not in any way a waste of resources. russellville, arkansas, republican line. caller: what i wanted to know this morning was -- we have had so much it into the economy. from taxpayers. i want to know where all the money goes. because apparently there are a lot of rich, rich people running around and we are suffering because we are the taxpayers and we have to pay for people that phones,illacs and new new everything while we
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taxpayers are paying the money for this to happen and they say there is a crisis? come on, get real. thank you. i don't know that with this particular problem we can tackle the overall issue of income inequality in this country. i think that is a bigger issue. believe that where this emergency is concerned, we can turn it around. we can turn it around reasonably takely, but it is going to a very effective effort and mobilization of resources and we do need additional help from the congress. >> how has the border fence changed since you were the head of ins? host: the actual fence. guest: the fence that was there in the 1990's, we had a couple of -- we had several tens of miles of fencing.
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fencing has always been an important part of the border patrol's ability to close off areas that are heavily crossed. but fencing, really, came into its fullness in the mid-2000 posse. congress enacted a law called 2006,cure fence act in 2000 seven, which mandated 700 miles 800 miles of fence. aboutnce often built is one third of the border. i think that every border patrol agent will tell you that fencing is an important part of what , but where people go on this is just fencing the entire border and things will be taking care of, the response to that is -- however high you build a fence, someone will build a ladder that is two feet higher. fencing by itself is not the answer to border enforcement. it is part of an answer. >> the bush administration put a
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lot of technology on the border. has that been effective? >> it has. it has been very effective. until this crisis, which really came about for different reasons, until this crisis we were at historic lows for 40 years. the border until two years ago had steadily gone down until it hit the level that was less than when this whole illegal immigration wave of the early 1970's began. the border patrol knows how to do border enforcement, but adults crossing the border are treated differently from young people crossing the border. young people crossing the border is what is going on now. it is entirely possible that young people, coming alone, crossing to the border is an adaptation to how effective the border enforcement has become.
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that that sounds counterintuitive, but smuggling and trafficking of people always adapts to the enforcement measures in place. thatnforcement measures have been in place have been sufficiently effective and smugglers have had to find other ways of carrying out their business. they hit upon young people coming without adults, because young people coming without adults are treated differently. so, we need to treat them differently in an accelerated fashion in order to overcome that. illinois,dy, chicago, the last call on the independent line. good morning. caller: i would like to say one thing. the law is the law. once these people cross our line, cross our border, they are automatically illegal. one more question -- the
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president has asked for 3.7 million, almost $4 billion. we have 3 million legal, working americans in our country that are waiting for a bill to be passed by john boehner, who won't pass it. long-term unemployment for legal americans. john boehner is a legal american. so, i think that $4 billion ought to be given to long-term unemployment he for we give to any illegal people coming into this country. that is my opinion on that. thank you very much. well, the congress will have to work its will on this appropriation. there are surely many items of a distillation that have been hung up in the congress. whether the congress can sort through its various issues is a
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much bigger issue than we can resolve over the immigration question. where the immigration question is concerned with its appropriation, if we expect to turn around the problems that crisis, weg this itd to put some resources to and get it behind us. >> does this crisis overshadow any congressional attempts on immigration? or at least the ability to pass something? i think that the ability to pass something was dead before this came about, but this does not help and it certainly does allow for all of the same old arguments to be raised that have been raised before. it is creating a situation where there is a lot more heat than light the new shed. but the congress has been at such cross purposes on immigration that even if we didn't have this crisis, i would
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be surprised >> thursday the senate holds a hearing on the request to do with mydeal grandchildren. you can see that on c-span3. >> on the next "washington a discussion of education policy and the call for the resignation of education secretary arne duncan. roekel.t is dennis van about president -- requestress to refunds to deal with the situation at the border. it can join the conversation on
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facebook and twitter. up, senators debate the influx of unaccompanied minors at the u.s.-mexican border. later i hear it -- a hearing on efforts to stop the influx of unaccompanied children. and the impact of assistance on reducing poverty. bylet this not be made fuzzy unthinking and stupid labels. [applause] i would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. [applause]
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thank you. let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue. [applause] >> senator goldwater's acceptance speech at the 1960
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four republican national convention this weekend on american history tv's "real c-span3.on >> president obama met with texas governor state -- rick perry and other leaders at the u.s. -- in texas. and a debate on how to to do minorse miners and -- and seal the border. this is an hour and 15 minutes. arizona, both senators understand, we are facing a crisis on our border. it's been changed now to a situation. i understand it's no longer a crisis, but a situation, according to the white house. and the senator from texas has been to the border. i've been to our border. and we have seen this veritable flood of young people who have come to our country under the
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belief that they will be able to stay. and the real human tragedy here of many, as my colleague from texas and my friend from arizona knows, is that the trip from central america to the texas border, which is the closest place of arrival, is a horrible experience for these young people. young women are routinely violated. young men are mistreated. it's a terrible experience for them. and those who are for, quote, open borders, those who think that this is somehow acceptable, ignore the fact that this is a human rights issue of these young people who are enticed to come to our country under false circumstances and suffer unspeakable indignities and even death along the way. the president of the united states, who initially said,
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state that had they would -- and i would quote him -- said that, that we had to stop this and initially said that we needed to reverse the legislation that has encouraged the people from -- to come here, he said -- i quote him. "kids all over the world have it tough." he said, even children in america who live in dangerous neighborhoods. he told a group that he was addressing, that he had to enforce the law even if that meant deporting hard cases with minors involved. sometimes there is inherent injustice where you were born. no president can solve that. obama said, but presidents must send the message that you can't just show up on the border, plead for asylum or refugee status and hope to get it. "that anyone can come in means effectively you don't have any
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kind of system," obama said we are a nation with borders that must be enforced. effectively the proposal for $3.7 billion that has come over has nothing to do with dispelling the idea and the belief in these central american countries that they can come here, if they get to our border, that they can stay. they can't stay. they cannot stay. if they believe they're victims of persecution, go to our consulate, go to our embassy. but we cannot, we cannot have this unlimited flow of individuals. and finally, i'd just -- i'll yield to my colleagues. but what about people in other parts of the world? don't they have -- don't they need this kind of relief? don't they -- aren't they persecuted? what about the middle east? what about africa? this is selective morality that's being practiced here, i would say to my friend from
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texas. and we want people to come to this country legally. we want them to come if they are persecuted, but we want an orderly fashion. and finally, could i just say that -- remind my friends that despite what may be said, the fact is that the numbers indicate the young people and these terrible can i oh tees that are -- ca -- can i coyotese bringing them, that there were many apprehended by the border patrol and only 1,669 were repatriated. does -- i ask my friend from texas, what kind of message does that send? mr. cornyn: mr. president, i would say to the distinguished senior senator from arizona that it's -- the administration has
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been sending mixed messages. first they call this a humanitarian crisis. then they called it i think the senator said a situation. they're sort of walking this back. but i just want to remind my colleagues from arizona what -- what the president said a few years ago in el paso when people said, we need better border security measures in place. he ridiculed people. you may remember this. he said -- this is the president talking in el paso in may 2011. he said, "you know, they said we needed to triple thede border patrol. or now they're going to say we need to quadruple the border patrol. or they'll have a higher fence. or maybe they'll need a moat. or maybe they want alligators in the mot moat. they'll never be satisfied. i understand that, he said, that's politics. but the truth, is the measures we put in place are getting
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results." the truth is, mr. president, they are not getting the kind of results that the american people expect nor that these children, who are being subjected to horrific conditions as they are smuggled from central america up through mexico to the united states. and i would say, you know, one of the most puzzling things to me -- i see my colleague from texas here -- i know governor perry has implored the president to come visit the border. now, he said, well, i'll invite the governor to an immigration roundtable where i doubt the governor will get in a word because the president will probably just deliver another lecture. he's pretty good at that. but that's 500 miles from where the problem is. how can you have a humanitarian crisis, as the white house has called this, and not want to go see it for yourself. maybe you'll actually learn something. and i agree with the senator from arizona, again, the bill that the administration sent over, they stripped out all the
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reforms that would actually go to solve the very problem that we all know needs to be solved here and instead asked for a blank check. mr. mccain: could i just ask the gentleman a question? the first thing that needs to be done is to amend the legislation which basically would then make every country treated the same way contiguous countries would. that has to be the first step. and again and again, i think it's important to emphasize here, this is a humanitarian issue but it's a humanitarian issue about these children 6 who are taking this -- how many days, 15, 20 days -- on top of a train, being taken and exploited by these terrible can coyotes. so shouldn't we have a system that if someone deserves asylum, we could beef up our consulate, beef up our embassy and have them come there and make their argument and be able to come to this country, i would argue. mr. cornyn: i would say to the senator, he's exactly right.
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what we need is a legal system of immigration, not an illegal system. because the people who control illegal immigration are the cartels and they're the coyotes that you mentioned earlier and the criminal gangs. and, by the way, they've discovered a new business model. they treat these children as commodities and they hold them for ransom, they sexually assault young women, as you pointed out, and we don't know how many of these children start this perilous journey from central america, some 1,200 miles away, and never make it to the united states because they simply die along the way. so this is a horrific situation. and i know both the senators from arizona, you might want to speak to this, the president has acknowledged that even under the senate immigration bill that passed the senate, none of these children would qualify. i would ask maybe the junior senator from arizona if he'd care to comment on that. i mean, how did this situation get created where even under the
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law that the president has advocated for, the senate immigration bill, none of these children would be able to stay. mr. flake: that's correct. the gentleman from texas is correct. neither the president's deferred action program nor legislation passed here by the senate would allow people coming now to have some type of legal status. in the case of the president's daca, or deferred action program, you would have had to have been here by 2007. urn the senate legislation, you would have had to have been here by 2011, at a minimum. so it wouldn't aplies apply. the problem here, the root of it or the main part of it is that people coming from noncontiguous countries to the u.s. -- meaning central american countries like honduras, el salvador and guatemala -- are treated differently than kids who come from mexico or canada. in the case of kids coming fro from -- unaccompanied minors from mexico or canada, i believe the average is three days that
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they -- we take care of them and then repatriate them or send them back. here in this case, because -- partly because of the law that we have under the trafficking victims act, kids who come here need to be placed with a guardian or a family. and the president's proposal is asking nearly $2 billion for the department of health and human services, which has no role in border enforcement at all, none. it has no role in deportation or to repatriate these children back. it's simply to settle these children with families or guardians around the country. and i should note that h.h.s. does no due diligence whatsoever to ensure that the people they are placing them with are here legally. and so the net effect is when a child goes to a legal guardian or a parent, it's very unlikely that they will then show up
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later for deportation hearings. and so, in effect, you're telling the cartels and the human smugglers and others, keep doing what you're doing because it works. when these unaccompanied minors get here, they will be able to stay. they'll be taken care of. and as senator mccain said, that's the least humane thing we can do is to encourage parents and relatives in these countries to send their children or put them in the care of smugglers and others. and if we want to stem the tide here, the way to stem the tide is to have parents and relatives in these countries seeing these children come back to these countries, like we do to children in mexico or canada who come across the border. and so i -- i thank the gentleman from arizona for arranging this colloquy. and we've got to take action here. mr. cornyn: if i may, mr. president, the junior senator from texas i know had visited lackland air force base
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and observed the 1,200 children who are being essentially warehoused because we don't have any other place to put. they if he might comment on what we're going to do if the numbers continue to grow at the level they are growing now? i know in 2011, there were about 6,000 unaccompanied minors detained at the southwestern border. this year since october, it's somewhere in the 50,000 range. if that number continues to escalate, where are we going to put all these kids? mr. cruz: well, i thank my friend, the senior senator from texas, and i am honored to stand here with the senior senator from texas and the senators from arizona as we speak out together against the humanitarian crisis that is unfolding on our border. president obama today is down in the state of texas but sadly he's not visiting the border. he's not visiting the children who are suffering as a result of the failures of the obama policies. instead, he's doing fund-raise fund-raisers. he's visiting democratic fat
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cats to collect checks and apparently there's no time to look at the disaster, at the devastation that's being caused by his policies. just a couple of weeks ago, as the senior senator from texas observed, i was down in lackland air force base where there are roughly 1,200 children being housed. and there's one thing president obama has said about what's happening that is absolutely correct -- this is a humanitarian disaster. but it is a disaster of the president's own making. it is a disaster that is the direct consequence of president obama's lawlessness. a quick review of the facts makes that abundantly apparent. in 2011, just three years ago, there were roughly 6,000 unaccompanied children apprehended trying to cross illegally into this country. then in 2012, in the summer of 2012, right before the election, president obama illegally granted amnesty to some 800,000 people who were here illegally
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who had entered the country as children. the direct predictable, foreseeable consequence of granting that amnesty is the number of children -- unaccompanied children immediately began to skyrocket. this year, the estimates are that 90,000 unca 90,000 unaccoms will enter this country. from 6,000 to 8 90,000. next year the number is expected to be 145,000. this is a direct consequence of the president's lawlessness. and it's worth underscoring. the people who are being hurt the most are these kids. the coyotes who are bringing them in, these are not well-meaning social workers trying to help out some kids. these are violent, hardened, transnational criminal cartels. and these mothers and fathers,
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sadly, are handing over their children to violent criminals who are physically abusing, who are sexually abusing small children. you know, when i was down at lackland air force base, a senior official there described to me how these cartels with some of these children, after they've taken them, after they've begun coming to this country to take them here illegally, that they would hold these children captive, hold them hostage to extract additional money from the families. and if the families didn't send them additional money, as horrifying as it is, these drug cartels would begin severing body parts of these children. and i listened to this senior official at lackland describe how the cartels will put a gun to the back of the head of a little boy or a little girl and force that child to cut off 9
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fingers or the ears -- cut off the fingers or the ears of another little boy or little girl. and if they don't do so, they'll shoot them and move to the next one. and so on our end, we are having children come to this country that we're having to deal with who are, number one, some of them are maimed. they've been maimed by the brutality of these criminal cartels. others of them have deep, deep psychological trauma of a child forced to do something so horrific. this is a tragedy that is playing out and it's playing out in realtime. now, the administration has suggested the cause of this is violence in central america. and i would suggest to my friend, the senior senator from texas, to the senators from arizona, that that argument is a complete red herring. violence in one country -- you would expect to see the number of immigrants from that country to go up but there's no reason
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unaccompanied children would go up. that is s -- something unique and distinct. there have always been countries across the world, sadly they have been plagued by violence, and when that happens, we have always seen an influx in immigrants, both legal and illegal from those countries. what we're seeing here is particular, though. it is particularly towards children, and the reason it is particularlyized towards children is because the president granted amnesty in a way that was par particular larryized towards children. you need to look no further than a report that was prepared by our border security that senator cornyn and senator flake and i all saw the senate judiciary committee. a couple of weeks ago we had a hearing on this humanitarian crisis, and a whistle-blower at the border patrol handed over this confidential document to a number of senators on the
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judiciary committee. it described how the border patrol interviewed over 200 people who had come here illegally, adults and children, and asked them a simple question -- why did you come? 95% said we came because we believe if we get here, we'll get amnesty. once we get here, once a child gets here, that little boy, that little girl is scot-free. and i would suggest to my friends this is what amnesty looks like. amnesty looks like dangerous drug cartels entering this country wantonly. amnesty looks like thousands of young children being housed in military bases. amnesty looks like hundreds of mpts who came here illegally being -- immigrants who came here illegally being transported
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to cities and towns amid opposition from the citizens who lived there. amnesty looks like a complete and utter disregard of our rule of law. amnesty is unfolding before our very eyes. and i would suggest the only response that will stop this humanitarian disaster is for president obama to start enforcing the law, to stop promising amnesty, to stop refusing to enforce federal immigration law and finally to secure the borders, and indeed i would call upon our colleagues in this body in both parties to come together and secure the border once and for all and to stop holding border security hostage for amnesty. mr. cornyn: senator, if i can ask a question, really, of all three. i think we have described the catastrophe that continues to
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unfold and indeed grow, but i know, speaking for myself, and i will venture to say i bet for all four of us, we are actually interested in trying to solve this problem, and the president sent over an appropriation request that is essentially a blank check. the junior senator from arizona appropriately acknowledged that the majority of the money is for health and human services to continue to warehouse these kids with no actual solution. the senior senator from arizona said that we need to change that 2008 law, and i agree with that. we need to make sure that the children are detained and then get whatever process they are entitled to, perhaps even appear before an immigration judge. that's something that we should talk about, before they are repatriated. but i just want to ask the senior senator from arizona because of his long distinguished service on the armed services committee, i was troubled to read and hear some of the testimony of general kelly, the head of southern
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command, that is the combatant commander for the world south of the texas border, mexico and to central and south america. actually, i guess mexico's northern command. what he said is they sit and watch 75% of the cartel activity involving illegal drugs and they simply don't have the assets to do anything about it. ask him if you think trying to figure out how to adequately fund and resource southern command, how to get our united states military to perhaps work more closely with the central american military forces and the mexican military forces, is that part of the solution to this problem? mr. mccain: i would say to my colleague yes, and also the commander of southern command believes that there is an increasing inflow of people entering our country illegally who are not from mexico or central america. they are from other countries
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around the world, and there is a real and imminent threat of people coming to the united states of america, not just to get a job or to get a better life, but to commit acts of terror. we have seen increasing numbers, i say to my friend from texas, 82 -- it's my understanding. tell me if i am correct. now 82% of the people coming across the border illegally are other than mexican. the majority central america, but then china, india, africa, all over the world they are coming across. mr. cornyn: i will say to the senator i have been in brooks county to see some of the rescue beacons they have there with some of the language written in chinese. this is in brooks county, texas, where i guarantee nobody who lives there speaks chinese -- or not many people. so his point is well taken. out of the 414,000 people detained coming across the southwestern border last year, they came from 100 different
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countries. now, most of them were mexico and central america, but the senator is exactly right. we have seen a huge influx from central america up through mexico, and that's the primary source today. mr. mccain: could i just mention, as we all know -- and i would certainly like my friend from arizona to comment on this. we have a proposal that came over from the president of the united states to spend some $3.7 billion. now, i think all of us are finding a way to pay for it, but agree with measures that need to be taken, such as beefing up our consulate and embassy capabilities, such as an increased number of refugee visas for citizens of el salvador, honduras and guatemala by 5,000 each next year. do what's next to try to address this from the humanitarian standpoint, but the president of the united states failed to -- even though he had stated with the proposal that came over, there is not a request to amend
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the trafficking victims prevention act. in other words, we could be in unending funding for treatment of people who came illegally unless we address the fundamental problem that's driving it. and so isn't it true that -- i would ask that my friend from arizona -- and by the way, i also point out that legislation that he and i were part of and spent hundreds if not thousands of hours on called for 90% effective control of the border and 100% situational awareness, some $8 billion being spent. it was amended on the floor for an additional 20,000 border patrol that a fundamental element of immigration reform as we proposed it was to get 90% effective control of the border, and in addition to that, that we would have that funding come out
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of fees that people would pay as they moved on a path to citizenship, not subject to appropriation. mr. flake: i thank the gentleman for making that point with regard to the legislation we have proposed. it truly put border security first. i continue to hope that the house would take that up. but one of the points that has been made is we have got to stem this humanitarian crisis in a way that will actually solve the problem, and that will be solved when parents and relatives in these countries realize that pending their children, unaccompanied minors is futile, they will spend a lot of money and it won't work. there is a good example of how we can give affect to this from just a couple of years ago. in 2005, the country of mexico allowed brazilians to come in on kind of a visa waiver type program. what happened is a lot of brazilian nationals came through mexico and just used it as a conduit to come into this
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country. so we had a huge number of so-called o.t.m.'s or other than mexicans coming up being brazilians. and we were doing some kind of -- what can best be described as catch and release. we would just take them back across the border and let them go. that wasn't solving the problem. and so we decided -- the bush administration decided we need to solve this problem. the way to solve it is to actually detain these individuals and then send them home to brazil. and we did that. it was an operation called texas hold em. after that operation, within 30 days, within 30 days, the number of brazilians coming through mexico into this country dropped by 50%, within 30 days. within 60 days, within 60 days, that number dropped by 90%. and so we can, we can do this, but it needs to involve us changing the law with regard to trafficking to allow us to treat children in honduras and
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guatemala and el salvador the same way we treat children who come up from mexico or from canada, and allow us to repatriate and to take these children back. once that happens, when we actually do that, then we have a chance to stem this tide. it's the best thing we could do on a humanitarian basis as well, is to not have these children subject to the cartels and human smugglers that are preying on them right now. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i just ask the junior senator from texas, surely the president understands the facts as we have laid them out here, the problem with the 2008 law. really the flaw in that law. they have created a business model out of it because they realize that these immigrants who come across will not be detained. either the children or many adults, women traveling with minor children because they are not adequate detention facilities.
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so i wonder if the senator has an opinion why if the president surrounded as he is by some pretty smart policy people, people like secretary jay johnson, the secretary of homeland security who i have had conversations with about this very topic, why is it that -- why is it that the president hasn't sent over a request to actually fix the problem as opposed to continuing to warehouse people? mr. cruz: the senior senator from texas is exactly right, that the president has effectively admitted that he has no intention of stopping this problem. the supplemental request that he has submitted, $3.7 billion, the majority of that goes to h.h.s. and social services, providing care to these kids rather than stopping and solving the problem. you know, you and i have both spent a lot of time down on the border of texas, and all four of
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us have spent time down on the border of texas or arizona. the consistent answer from local leaders, from local law enforcement, from local elected officials about what is effective securing the border, the most consistent answer is boots on the ground, that if you want to effectively secure the border, boots on the ground, particularly combined with technology. it's striking, out of $3.7 billion, a tiny percentage of that is directed towards boots on the ground. this is an h.h.s.-social services bill, and it's unfortunately a pattern we have seen with the obama administration of bait and switch. they are calling this a border security bill. it is reminiscent of the 2009 stimulus, which we will all recall was sold to the american people, the 2009 stimulus was about building roads and infrastructure and shovel-ready projects, all of which are good ideas, and then when over $800 billion was spent by the obama administration, very little of it actually went to roads or infrastructure or shovel-ready projects.
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instead, it paid off liberal interest groups like acorn. in this case, the administration calls the $3.7 billion border security, and yet almost none of the money goes to border security. indeed, i would note for all of the democrats who are seeing this humanitarian crisis unfold who are discovering suddenly the need for border security, -- and i would note my friend, the senior senator from new york, stood on this floor as we were debating immigration last year and said the border is secure today. president obama stood in el paso in 2010 and said the border is secure today. i would note for everyone who says now that they are focused on border security, that when the senate judiciary committee was considering immigration reform, i introduced an amendment which the senior senator from texas supported that would have tripled our border patrol, that would have increased fourfold the fixed wing assets, the technology that
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would have provided the tools to finally solve this problem, and every single senate democrat on the senate judiciary committee voted against it. so we shouldn't be surprised that the president's proposal that is be labeled border security doesn't actually secure the border, doesn't do anything about the lawlessness or the amnesty, which means that the obama administration is effectively admitting that they expect these children to continue coming hundreds of thousands of them in years to come, hundreds of thousands of little boys and little girls being subjected to horrific physical abuse, sexual abuse, and they intend to do nothing to fix the problem, to stop it, to secure the borders, to uphold the law. that is heart breaking and that is not the responsibility of a commander in chief. mr. cornyn: i would ask the senior senator from arizona who is a well-known national
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security expert but also knows a little about this big world we live in, what is it that we can do with some of the money that we are currently -- that's slated to go to countries like honduras and guatemala and even mexico? i know historically we have had successful partnership, for example, with the colombian government to help them build their capacity under play in colombia. admittedly that's a little different scenario. in mexico, we have the merita initiative where we have trained and provide equipment to help build their police and law enforcement capability. are there things that we ought to try to tie the money that goes to these countries right now, too, that would be productive programs that would help solve the problem at its source? mr. mccain: absolutely. and as we mentioned earlier, beefing up our embassy and consulate capabilities to hear these cases in the country of origin, particularly central america, is really very
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important. but i'd also like to point out that there is an article entitled -- "deportation data won't dispel rumors drawing migrant minors to the united states." it's a very interesting piece. organize crime groups in central america have exploited the slow u.s. legal process and the compassion shown to children in apparent crisis, according to david leapold, an immigration attorney in cleveland. he said, smugglers, who may charge a family up to $12,000 to deliver a child to the border, often tell them exactly what to say to american officials. quote -- "the cartels have figured out where the hole is," he said. it now stands the 2008 law guarantees unaccompanied minors from those countries access to a federal asylum officer and a chance to tell a u.s. judge that they were victims of a crime or face abuse or sexual trafficking if they are sent home.
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if the claim is deemed credible, judges may grant a waiver from immediate deportation. quote -- "word of mouth gets back and now people are calling and saying 'this is what i said in court' said a senior u.s. law enforcement official who was not authorized to speak on the record." and he says, quoting, "whether it is true or not, the perception is that they are successfully entering the united states. that's what's driving up the landings and, of course, the numbers are staggering," as we have pointed out. and the president himself spoke in the rose garden last week saying he was -- quote -- "sending a clear message to parents in central america not to send their children north in hopes of being allowed into america." and he said, "the journey is unbelievably dangerous for these kids." obama said, "the children who are fortunate enough to survive it will be taken care of while they go through the legal processes but in most cases that
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process will lead to bringing -- to them being sent home." unfortunately his statement is not backed up by the actual numbers. we're talking about 1/10th of these children are actually being sent back as they are being coached by these coyotes who are giving them the story to tell. i want to emphasize, on the part of all of us on this side of the aisle and every american that we represent, we have compassion for these people, we care about a humanitarian crisis, we care about these children. it's not a matter of -- of fortress america. we're all for legal immigration. we're from every part of the world. so we will be portrayed by the open border people, very frankly, as those who want to stop these poor children from being able to come to our country. it's not that. we are trying to stop the abuse and human abuses, the terrible
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things that are being perpetrated on these children under the false pretenses -- there should be false pretenses -- but now not so false, that they can come to this country and day is. mr. cornyn: if i could ask the senior senator, i think you've accurately described how the cartels have figured out how to game this system, and, indeed, all the advertising we do down in central america saying "don't come," as long as the junior senator from arizona indicated they get a call and said, "i made it" and the cartels realize that for every migrant child that they shuttle on up through the smuggling corridors, it's going to be another $5,000 or more in the bank, there's every incentive to continue. but i want to ask the senior senator and perhaps our other colleagues, you know, the president has said that he's got a pen and he's got a phone and he's going to do things without congress. and he said that because he's frustrated -- and i know we all
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have experienced a level of frustration during the immigration debates from time to time and over the years -- but he says he's going to consider issuing another order relative to deportation policy, which strikes me as doubling down on this message that is sent that he's not going to enforce the law, he's going to try to circumvent the law and basically welcome more people here outside of legal avenues. so i just would ask my colleagues, doesn't that make things worse, not better? mr. mccain: well, the other aspect of this that makes things worse, of course, is the president on the one hand agrees with us, they can't stay -- many times i've quoted him here -- but at the same time in the proposal that came over for $3.7 billion, has nothing that would do that any objective observer would indicate that this would dispel the incentive
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and the magnet that is creating this flood of young people who obviously we've talked about their trip. i'd ask my friend from arizona. mr. flake: well, thank you. i have to run to a hearing in a second but i just want to say, yes, the president -- i, frankly, myself and senator mccain, senator feinstein on the other side of the aisle and many others, i think everyone here, signed a letter to the president asking him to make a clear statement that children coming now will be deported. he did so. so did the secretary of homeland security. our state department has relayed that message. but you can say that until you're blue in the face but if the reality is that children -- unaccompanied minors who get here are then placed with guardians or families around the country and we appropriate $1.8 billion to do so, then the message that is sent is exactly the opposite of what the president is saying.
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and so i think that's what we're all here today to say, is we have to not just say the right thing, we have to do the right thing. and the right thing here is to change the law that allows the loophole for people to stay here indefinitely and send the message by actually sending children, as we do with unaccompanied minors from mexico and canada, back. because that will send the message clearer than anything, any words we can say to those tightknit communities who hear word of mouth -- and nobody, i can tell you, is going to pay another $5,000 or $6,000 or $7,000 to send a child in that dangerous condition to the border if they know that they're going to be returned home. mr. mccain: could i just finally add, this proposal that came over for $3.8 billion -- i can only speak for myself -- but unless there are provisions in that legislation which would bring an end to this humanitarian crisis, then i
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cannot support it. i cannot vote for a provision which will then just perpetuate an unacceptable human crisis that's -- humanitarian crisis that's taking place on our southern border. i don't know if my colleague would agree. mr. cruz: well, i would note that the confirmation that the message of amnesty has been received by the parents who are entrusting the children to these drug dealers is the border patrol report that said 95% of those coming believed they would get a permiso, they believed they would be allowed to go scot-free here. that's the message that is being heard. it's why these children are being subjected to violence. you know, at lackland air force base, a senior official there described one child, a young hispanic child who was a quadriplegic, and the cartels abandoned him on the sex sex side of the rio grande. they found him lying by the --
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on the texas side of the rio grande. they found him lying by the side of the river. what is happening to these children is horrific. we are a compassionate nation. we've always been a compassionate nation. but any policy that continues children being abused by violent drug cartels is the opposite of compassion. and so i would ask two questions to my friend, the senior senator from arizona. the first, i had this afternoon lunch with ther t the attorney l of texas, greg abbot, who described that the attorney general of texas have recently arrested an alleged terrorist in texas with ties to isis, with ties to the radical islamic terrorists who are right now wreaking havoc across iraq and syria. so the first question i would ask the senior senator from arizona is, how significant does he see the threat of terrorists crossing our porous border and
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targeting the homeland? and then the second question that i would ask that is relat related, of the $3.7 billion that president obama has requested in the supplemental bill, just $160 million is directed to border patrol agents and immigration judges both. so less than 5% of the total actually goes to boots on the ground. and so the second question i would ask to the senior senator from arizona is, in his judgme judgment, is devoting less than 5% of the resources from this bill to boots on the ground a serious effort at securing the border and solve the problem? mr. mccain: i would say to my colleague, the answer to the second question is obviously no. and it's my understanding if you break this down, this legislation, into individual illegal immigrant, it's like $80,000 per -- per individual. a remarkable sum. i'd be glad to be corrected for
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the record if that's not true. but concerning the senator's first question, about a month ago for the first time in syria, an american citizen blew himself up as a suicide bomber in syria. there are now thousands and thousands of europeans -- we believe there are as many as a hundred united states, although that numbers varies, citizens that are over fighting in syria on behalf of the most radical terrorist organization, isis. and they're -- these -- these many hundred of european as that are fighting there have, guess what? as european citizens of these countries in europe, they have a visa. they can get on a plane tomorrow. they can get to a european country and get on a plane tomorrow and fly to the united states of america because they're a citizen of one of the european countries of which we have a visa-free agreement on.
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so our director of national intelligence -- yeah, our -- the secretary of homeland security and the director of the federal bureau of investigation have all said unequivocally that the events that are tra transpiringw in the largest, most wealthy, most influential and largest center for terrorism between syria and iraq is breeding these people who are going to -- who have said they want to attack the united states of america. this guy baghdadi, who is now the leader of isis who apparently we saw on television preaching at a mosque in mosul the other day, despite the fact there's $10 million on his head, said when he left our prison camp bucca in iraq, his last words were, "see you in new
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york." "see you in new york." and i don't think he was joking. and so this also is clearly a national security issue over time as well, i say to my friend fromuorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. menendez: mr. president, we're here today to address a refugee crisis in america. now, i nevada thought that i would have to use those words on the floor of the senate, but there is no other way to describe what is happening on our southern border. what is happening in central america, the violence, the kidnappings, the failure of the rule of law, is the root cause of the problem and is threatening tens of thousands of families and thousands and thousands of children, causing a refugee crisis that is simply unacceptable, unacceptable in america, unacceptable in our hemisphere. now, let's be clear. it's being caused in large
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measure by thousands in central america who believe it is better to run for their lives and risk dying than stay and die for sure. it is a nearly 2,000-mile journey from these countries to the u.s. border. these families are not undertaking this journey lightly. my republican colleagues make it sound as though parents are willingly choosing to risk their children's lives, send them on a 2,000-mile journey fraught with smugglers, thieves, child abductors, sex traffickers, as if that's really a choice. their parents, just as -- they're parents, just as we are parents. and i, as a pairnght a parent, t imagine having to make that choice, to send them on a perilous journey with no guarantees of survival, except out of an absolute fear for
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their lives if they stay. to politicize the decision to send a child away as opportunistic, as a way to take advantage of american law, is a cynical position as i have ever heard. first of all, there is no deferred action -- nothing that we did for dreamers in this country -- would help any of these people. they don't qualify under any elements of that provision. and the immigration reform that was passed here in the senate by a broad bipartisan vote -- 68 votes -- would not help anyone of these people -- would not help any one of these people. because they would have had to be in the country by december 31 of 2011 so nothing in that law is an attraction. nothing. yet republicans in the house of representatives won't even take a vote on immigration reform.
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frankly, my republican friends can't have it both ways. they can't criticize the president -- in fact, sue the president for abusing his executive authority and at the same time come to this floor and criticize for a lack of leadership when they won't even cast their vote. that is nothing, if not totally and transparently political. this is not about a welcome mat. it is a desperate effort on the part of parents to do what parentparents do. that is do what you must do evening if it means sending them away. let's be clear. first of all violence and crime are a pandemic that sadly has become part of life in central america. and in honduras, el salvador, and guatemala. honduras has the highest per capita murder rate in the world,
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in the world. el salvador and guatemala are in the top five in the world. second, more than 80% of the elicit drugs coming from south america to the united states travel through central america. drug traffickers and local gangs harass and extort local residents and they're able to use their profits to corrupt the police, judicial system, and government institutions. third, the rates of posts and inequality -- of poverty and inequality in these countries are sky high while levels of economic growth and development lag far behind other countries in latin america. the recent report by the u.n. high commissioner for refugees found that the majority of the minors they interviewed here in the united states had left their home country out of fear. the bottom line is that we must attack this problem from a foreign policy perspective, from a refugee perspective, from a
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national security perspective. we need do all that we can to stablize the situation in central america and stop the flow of children and refugees to our border. mr. president, after a full year of scwaw squandering every conce opportunity to pass commonsense immigration reform, speaker boehner has admitted that his party has killed any prospects for reform. now we have to deal with the political consequences of the republican leadership's obstructionism. so i fully support the president's efforts to fix some of the most urgent problems facing our nation's broken immigration system, and i look forward to seeing those families who are seeing and eligible receive relief from deportation as we continue to advocate for a permanent legislative solution. in the meantime, we need to provide emergency funding to deal with this refugee crisis. to begin with the president's
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supplemental appropriations request is a very tough pro--enforcement -- pro-enforcement legislation. by the way, you know, as we talk about more money for enforcement, we're actually doing a good job in enforcement on the border. why i do say that? because the reason that we know of the size of the refugee challenge that we are facing is because we are interdicting, apprehending these people at the border and then putting them in detention facilities. so it's not that the border patrol isn't doing their jobs. they are. yet we have an appropriations bill, supplemental request being put before us -- $$3.7 billion -- billion -- for enforcement, homeland security, and other resources. it provides critical funding to prosecute traffickers who are bringing these kids here, and that's what my republican colleagues have been asking for.
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but let's be clear. we need to keep this supplemental clean and free of riders and authorizing language. if key don't keep it clean, it will never get passed, and one person will want to add part of immigration reform, then another part will have to have another part. the bottom line is this body already passed, with over 68 votes, comprehensive immigration reform. we don't need to have a debate on this bill that we've -- that's something we've already passed on. we need do deal with the emergency. now, i love it when my republican friends scream for action -- this is emergency funding, and this ha it's as conservative as it gets, focused almost entirely on enforcement. the bill is giving republicans what they've always asked for: more money for border enforcement, especially in the border states. so we need to provide the president with the money so that he can handle the refugee crisis. it's what we expect of nations around the world.
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it's what we tell other nations around the world. i.t. th it's the history of the world to treat reflection appropriately. some of these children and families and refugees and some of them are not. the children who have claims should be able to pursue those claims with a day in court under exufght u.s. law. if they lose, they'll be deported. we have a legal system to address the crisis. let's use it and let's give the president the resources he needs to enforce it. the president's supplemental appropriations request, in my mind, is an essential beginning, but i hope that the administration will consider the 20-point plan that i laid out that deals in part, and i think importantly, with the root causes. because if we spend $3.7 billion for enforcement and spend what we have been spending, which is about $110 million among five
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countries in central america to create citizen security so people don't flee in the first place, it seems to me that we have this equation a little wrong. we're going to spend $3.5 billion to deal with the consequences, but we're going to spend $110 million to deal with the cause. if we don't deal with the cause, guess what? there will never be enough money, and there will always be a continuing challenge of refugees fleeing the violence in their countries. so i hope that will increase aid for citizen security directed to help them with our law enforcement entities, to deal with the security in their country, to deal with the drug traffickers, to deal with the gangs, to be able to create a sense of security in your neighborhoods so that you don't flee the country, so it isn't likely that your mother or
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father will be killed in front of you, or your brother will be killed or your sister will be raped, which is increasingly the stories that i heard from these individuals. and that will do it while implementing humane reforms that don't put innocent children in harm's way. at the border we're seeing unprecedented violence, unprecedented suffering, unprecedented abuse. this is far more than an immigration issue. it is a refugee issue much like we've seen in other parts of the world and we must stop it. it will not be easy. there are no easy answers and no easy fixes but i believe we should muster all the outrage we can to come up with a short-term fix but a long-term solution and come up with a strategy that deals with that. first we have to identify the root causes of this far-reaching refugee problem. second, we have to put pressure on governments in the hemisphere that are not handling crime and
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violence in their nations in a way that prevents families from sending their children across the border in the first place. third, we need to combat the smuggling and trafficking rings in central america. that's in our own national security interest. fourth, we have to effectively deal with the situation at hand and meet the humanitarian needs of these children -- and i mean children eight years old, seven years old -- no matter what it takes, without placing them in jail in the process. and fifth, we have to deal with the overriding issues and basic causes from a foreign policy point of view. then we can deal with the join-or-die gang recruitment and the gang threats against children and their families in the hemisphere in honduras and guatamala. six we have to do all we can to combat international crime working with our neighbors to end the violence addressing criminal activity that is destabilizing the region.
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and seven, we need to crack down hard on the explosion of gangs and smugglers forcing families apart and preying on young children. i can tell you as chairman of the senate foreign relations committee, i am seeing day after day violence in so many countries, spreading to so many countries. but i have never seen or thought that i would see refugees from this hemisphere spilling over our borders. we need to act, and we have to deal with the immediate crisis at hand. now this is not just a challenge here. asylum claims in the region, meaning to other countries in the central american region, have skyrocketed by 700% in recent years. current law protects the ability of those children under our system who apply for asylum trafficking protection and other specialized form of release to have their day in court.
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and not every child will have a valid claims. and those who do not will also be deported and reintegrated back into what is obviously a violent set of circumstances as it exists today, but that will be the case. but it is critically important that every child be given the chance to have due process under our existing law so we don't inadvertently return them to death or violence. there are better ways to deal with this population than through detention or expedited proceedings that don't undermine that due process. i'd like the administration to explore the use of alternatives of detention for families that we want to monitor and make sure that they show up at their court proceedings. this supplemental appropriations bill should also include the opportunity to make sure that we look at those systems and that the representation of children in court is an adequate one. now while the short-term needs are very pressing, we must also not ignore the long-term
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importance of shoring up our regional security in central america. congress should increase funding for car cri, the central american regional security initiative, to assist with narcotics interdiction, institutional capacity building and violence prevention. state and usaid must development a strategy that includes budgets to support sustainable growth. the millennium challenge corporation should accelerate engagement in the region. i think the state department should designate a high-level coordinator to establish an office to be the focal point for policy formulation and a response to humanitarian concerns facing children escaping this region. lastly, state and usaid should work together to establish effective repatriation and reintegration programs for children who are returned to their home countries. mr. president, if we don't deal with the root causes, this is
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what's going to happen. we'll expedite the process, we'll deport, and when they go home and face the same violence that we have done nothing to change, their option will still be the same: flee or die. and they will take the risk all over again, and we will have the challenge all over again. now there are no easy answers, but i truly believe at the end of the day immigration reform, which had very significant border protection provisions, very significant antitrafficking and smuggling of individuals in terms of assistance to deal with those challenges would have been and is still incredibly important. convincing our republican colleague in the house if we continue to do nothing there will continue to be trouble on our borders and the refugee problem only will get worse seems to be a difficult proposition. the fact is the senate-passed bill actually contains important
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border security measures. if it had been passed in the house a year ago when the senate passed it and sent it over there, then maybe we would have preempted a good part of the challenge we have today. it contains antismuggling, antitrafficking measures. it contains provisions to address criminal activity. and yet, the house republican leadership cannot bring itself to marginalize the extreme right wing and do what is right and just and fair. the bottom line is that we have to attack this problem from a refugee perspective, a foreign policy perspective and a national security perspective. we need to do all we can to maximize our effort to fight the criminals, increase development opportunities and provide the type of economic state craft tack provide relief. and we have to give families a chance to fight back economically and politically against those who are causing the violence, the illicit
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trafficking, the gang and drug violence and those running the criminal networks in the region. mr. president, i'm concerned and i'm angry, and it's time to fight back. but it's also time to deal with a crisis that is upon us, and we can only do that if we give the president the resources to meet the challenge. failure to be willing to support the resources to do that will rest on those who cast a negative vote, and, therefore, from my perspective, will risk the national security along the border of the united states, will risk the consequences of the humanitarian and refugee crisis that will continue to flow, will risk the consequences of the drug traffickers in central america, the gangs in central america, all who use it as a route to come to the united
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states. it's easy to say "no." it's far more difficult to be constructive. and so far what i've heard in response to this crisis is the negativity of "no," the criticism of the president for using executive powers when the congress of the united states fails to act in its own right. we can't have it both ways. this is a moment to call for the greater interest of the nation than to play the partisan politics that i have seen unfold so far.o: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from hawaii. ms. hirono: i rise today to speak about the humanitarian situation on our southern border. over the last year we have seen a flood of unaccompanied children come from central american countries such as el salvador, honduras and guatamala. in fact, the number of children has more than doubled in the past year to nearly 60,000. this is a humanitarian crisis, and it is heartbreaking.
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sadly, there are some who believe they have found a simple solution to this problem that, we can somehow just round up these young children and send them back on a plane where they came from immediately. i disagree. the united states has always been a leader in providing aid and assistance to those in danger and in need. these are values that our country and congress have overwhelmingly endorsed. in fact, the current procedures for dealing with children from these countries were set in a 2008 law. the law was signed by president bush and unanimously passed by both the house and senate. these procedures are in place because our values as a nation dictate that we do what we can to protect children from violence and trafficking. it saddens me that there are some who have even called for changing this underlying protective law presumably so
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that we can just ship these children back to where they came from without the due process protections that this law affords. of the thousands of children showing up at our doorstep, many of whom were at risk in the hands of criminal smugglers during their trip, 40% of them are young girls. many are under the age of 12 and have been sent on their own without the protection of their parents or other family. these children aren't coming here because of president obama or democrats or republicans. they are coming to our border because of the terrible violence and conditions that they face in their home countries. in fact, there is a direct correlation between growing violence in these home countries and the increasing ways of children coming to the united states. for example, many face join or die gang recruitment situations which amount to forced
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conscription like we saw with the child soldiers in other countries. they are subjected to sexual violence and brutality. it's hard for someone from our country to imagine just how severe this violence is, but data from the united nations offers some perspective. the u.n. estimates that the murder rate in honduras in 2012 was 30% higher than u.n. estimates of the civilian casualty rate at the height -- at the height -- of the iraq war. that is a staggering level of violence for any nation to endure. we all agree that the current situation is unsustainable and needs to be addressed. but simply sending children back into harm's way is not the answer. we should be working together to address the root causes that are pushing these children to make these dangerous journeys. i'm proud to have worked with my
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colleague, senator menendez, from whom you just heard, to introduce a comprehensive plan to address this issue. that plan is a bit more complicated than simply rounding children up and shipping them out, but it is clear that this crisis requires action on several fronts. first, we should continue to crack down on human smuggling and criminal activity in concert with the children's home countries. second, we have to honor our domestic and legal requirements related to the treatment of children, refugees and asylum seekers. this means supporting the administration's efforts to provide humane treatment to these children. third, we have to redouble our efforts to support peace, economic growth and social development in central america. i look forward to discussing more of the details of our plan with any of my colleagues who want to work together
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constructively to solve this problem. only by focusing on addressing the root cause of this crisis can we truly address it. the president has been managing a coordinated response to handle this very difficult, heartbreaking situation. i hope that we can work together to provide adequate resources to professionals on the ground. we must also continue pressing for comprehensive immigration reform so that our system will not be so overwhelmed in times like these. i yield the a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from delaware. mr. coons: madam president, as you do now, i have just recently had the honor of presiding over this chamber and i've had the opportunity in the hour that i've just finished presiding to listen to our colleagues and to listen as they come to this floor, as you just have, madam president, and speak to the humanitarian crisis unfolding on the southern border
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of our country. and, sadly, i think truly sadly, i've listened to a whole series of our republican colleagues use this opportunity to line up on the floor and to wail upon our president and complain that this humanitarian crisis is his fault, that it is solely the fault of the president that there are tens of thousands of children coming to the american border unaccompanied seeking refuge in this country, that it is solely his fault. it's tough to even know where to begin, madam president, in responding to these suggestions, but let me try. let me start from my perspective as a member of the senate foreign relations committee. it's important first remember that this is no ordinary issue of border security or of immigration enforcement, this is a humanitarian and a refugee crisis. the tens of thousands of children, young children, presenting themselves alone at the border of the united states
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are not dangerous criminals who threaten our national safety, they are so often children who've traveled thousands of miles from their home countries at enormous risk and expense and they have come not because our border is wide open, not because it's unsecure. in fact, virtually all of them are being interdicted at the border by our effective border security. the challenge is that these children are being sent on these incredibly long and expensive and dangerous and difficult trips in the first place. our republican colleagues have suggested this is solely caused by our president's lawlessness, that somehow a either law that was proposed and passed here in the senate in the comprehensive immigration reform bill or the president's deferred action program with regards to those who are so-called dreamers, that that's what's causing this flood of child refugees to this
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country. well, as has been said by other of our colleagues just in the last hour, neither of those two things, neither the comprehensive immigration bill passed on a bipartisan basis by this chamber nor the defense action program of the administration, would create any relief, any legal opportunity for these child refugees to stay in the united states. neither of them apply in order to get access to the benefit of the opportunity to be in the united states under those two provisions, you'd have to have been here years ago. the problem is really instability, violence, tragic collapse of governance and safety in three central american countries f. the magnet -- countries. if the magnet drawing thousands of refugees to this country were the actions or inactions of the president, wouldn't we see a huge surge in refugees from elsewhere in central america, from panama or from belize or from costa rica or from, even
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closer to us, from mexico as well? but we haven't. in the last five years, child migrants from mexico have stayed relatively flat while children from the three countries that are the focus of current violence -- el salvador, honduras and guatemala -- have surged out of control. in 2009, child migrants from those three countries made up just 17% of all the children trying to come across the american border. this year, three-quarters are coming from el salvador, honduras and guatemala. why are they coming from these three countries? why these three countries? well, if you ask them, they'll tell you, the united nations high commissioner of refugees surveyed last year 400 child refugees and said, why have you made this long and dangerous and difficult trip to the american border? only nine of 404 surveyed said because they believed the u.s. would treat them well. more than half said they came out of fear because they were
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forcibly displaced. they are refugees not criminals. and we need to deal with the source of the problem in these three countries, not make this a partisan game on the floor of this chamber. the evidence i think is clear that these children are being sent on this difficult, long and expensive trip by their parents in desperation because they have no other choice. if they stay in their home countries, the levels of violence, of gang activity, of murder have skyrocketed off the charts. they're fleeing not just to america but to mexico, to nicaragua, to costa rica as well. children are fleeing the violence in these three countries in every direction, not because they're drawn by the magnet of some failure of immigration policy here, but because they are driven by the sin trif cal force of violence -- centrifugal force of the violence in these countries. violence against children are up 700% in the countries of mexico,
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and the c the countries immediay around these three, that are the center of violence. and it is my hope, as we consider the request of the president, as we consider it in the appropriations committee tomorrow and as we see it on the floor, that we will see more and more ways the emergency supplemental provides resources needed to ensure that these children are given the fair hearing that they're entitled to under the law, a law signed by president bush, passed unanimously by this chamber, that we will honor our international commitments and allow these children their day in court. and if they have no legitimate claim to refugee status, that they will be deported. but if they have a legitimate claim, that they are treated fairly. families and children are fleeing these central american countries because conditions have become unbearable. gangs, narcotic groups, corrupt officials have weakened security situations and created an environment where innocent civilians are targeted by gangs.
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in honduras, for example, as has been mentioned earlier today, in the city of san pedro sula, the murder rate is four times higher. the chance of dying through murder is four times higher than faced by american troops in the highest years of combat deaths in iraq. it has one of the highest murder rates on the planet. in guatemala, a weak government lacks the capacity to address insecurity and poverty and these forces continue to drive guatemalans to flee and to send their children to seek some peace outside their country. in el salvador, after a failed truce, gangs have divided territory up and are challenging control of the state while bringing violence into every neighborhood. despite these significant issu issues, we can and we should contribute and invest more in partnership with these three countries to hold them accountable for delivering on stability for their citizens. visits by the vice president, by the secretary of state, meetings
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with the leaders of these three countries have laid out a path forward and a plan and funding in this emergency supplemental will help contribute to prosecution of the coyotes and the criminal gangs that are profiting off of trafficking in these children, to increasing the capacity of these countries to receive back those children and adults who are being repatriated, and to lead a media campaign to make sure that parents understand that children sent to the united states are not automatically entitled to stay in the united states. we have to strengthen our efforts to counter corruption, to hold these governments accountable and to insist on building stronger security, judicial and governing institutions in these three central american countries. now, i'm also a member of the senate judiciary committee and the senate appropriations committee and from those seats i know how important it is that we make sure resources are